Europa League: David Healy's steady hand puts Linfield on brink of £4m windfall

Media playback is not supported on this device

Impressive Linfield reach Europa play-offs

"I'm also looking at the game against Coleraine which is coming up very quickly".

After uttering the above sentence, Linfield boss David Healy smiles as he perhaps realises how Saturday's home league game against the Bannsiders may be slightly overshadowed by a Europa League play-off where victory will net the club a place in the competition's group stages - in addition to an estimated simply mind-blowing £4m figure for an Irish Premiership club.

But while Healy is not given to losing the run of himself, the "exuberance and excitement in that dressing room" is proving infectious as he attempts to put in context the club's achievement in winning back-to-back rounds in Europe for the first time since 1966.

Tuesday's 3-2 home win over Montenegro champions Sutjeska Niksic completed a 5-3 aggregate victory in the third qualifying round in front of an exultant Windsor Park.

Blues to face Azerbaijan's Qarabag in £4m tie

The upshot is that Linfield will host Azerbaijan champions Qarabag at Windsor Park next Thursday with the away game a week later in a tie offering the Blues an opportunity to almost treble the £1.4m they have already banked for their European exploits.

"I spoke to the players and reminded them not to underestimate what they achieved tonight," says Healy, 40, Northern Ireland's all-time leading international goalscorer.

"I'm thrilled for the players and thrilled for the club. Thrilled for myself and the rest of the staff to be given the opportunity to go now next week and perform again in a big tie for the club.

"We look forward to the challenge. It will be a tough one but the way we are playing at the minute, we will relish the challenge.

"Everything we are asking of the players at the minute, they are delivering. I hope it continues."

Shayne Lavery scored against Sutjeska Niksic
Shayne Lavery's outstanding display included scoring Linfield's second goal in a 3-2 victory

Lavery stars in Blues success

The manager is also delivering - and in spades - under the most exacting of pressure.

After Linfield twice led thanks to goals from Mark Stafford and the outstanding Shayne Lavery, Bojan Bozovic's second goal on the night with over half an hour to play reduced the Blues lead to 4-3 in the tie.

Another goal for Sutjeska, a player down after a red card, would have put them ahead in the tie.

It might have seemed the time to shut up shop but Healy did the very opposite as he introduced the attack-minded Joel Cooper and the former Glenavon man went on to set up Matthew Clarke's clinching goal in the 76th minute.

"When the game goes to 2-2, you were thinking that we had discussed maybe throwing on an extra defender to maybe shore it up and see it out.

"But we didn't. We made the decision to throw Joel Cooper on and Joel gave us the spark for the third goal. The three substitutions we made tonight were positive changes in Cooper, Jordan Stewart and Andy Waterworth and again, they played a part in seeing us over the line."

Linfield saw off Montenegrin side Sutjeska to reach the play-off round of the Europa League
Linfield saw off Montenegrin side Sutjeska to reach the play-off round of the Europa League

As for the challenge of facing the Azerbaijan champions, Healy knows full well it will be a step up in class from the Montenegrins with their European campaign this season already including a 4-1 Champions League qualifying round aggregate victory over Dundalk.

"I know they are a good side. That's for sure. They played Chelsea two years ago in the Europa League group stages. They have a European pedigree."

But before that, there's Coleraine to worry about.

"In the back of my mind, I'm saying we're not even out of August yet. We've got 37 league games left. We've got cup competitions."

He can't stop himself.